Plastic waste is the scourge of developing countries. Many have poor waste collection and virtually no recycling. But there may be ways in which local people can put the waste to good use
In Cameroon a child called Pierre Kamsouloum wanted to play football, but had no ball. He got the idea of melting soft plastic, the kind that food is wrapped in, and moulding it into a crude football. A few years later, without a job and looking for a way to make money, he came back to the idea, and realised that if you mixed the molten plastic with sand, you could turn it into tough paving slabs, competitively priced. Now, with the help of NGOs, thousands of people across Cameroon and Gambia have been trained in the technique.
In the Netherlands, design student Dave Hakkens had the idea of creating machines that people could use to recycle their plastic locally. Using quite basic technology, these machines shred, melt and then extrude plastic into moulds to make flat sheets, bowls, and even giant Lego-style house building bricks. The designs are all open-source and online, and a movement of thousands of people has grown up, building, improving and using Dave’s machines.
In Guatemala, German environmentalist Susanne Heisse was depressed by the plastic pollution collecting at the side of Lake Atilan. Inspired by the actions of a neighbour, she started stuffing the waste into plastic drinking bottles, and so the idea of the eco-brick was born – a building block that can be strong and durable and at the same time sequesters the plastic and stops it breaking down into dangerous plastics.
None of these ideas is without its difficulties and each has its critics. But until we find ways to live without plastic, could they be part of the solution?
Presenter/Producer: Jolyon Jenkins
Every year billions of products are sold around the world in plastic packaging. But some countries lack a waste system to collect and recycle or dispose of the rubbish. The result can be that waste is dumped, set on fire or used as an accelerant in domestic fires.
A new report by Tearfund claims to reveal the scale of the uncontrolled burning in six key countries. Tom Heap finds out what the implications of this are and asks if the product manufacturers which profit have a 'moral responsiblity' to help clear up.
Producer: Anne-Marie Bullock
Turning Japan Green
Cherry blossom is a perfect symbol of Japan's relationship with nature and the broader environment. It's beautiful, flawless and disappears with the wind. The organisers of the Tokyo Olympics are keen to use the event to push the nation further toward a sustainable future. When the delayed Games finally go ahead they're promised to run on 100% renewable energy and use recycled rainwater. Even the medals and podiums will be made from old mobile phones and recycled shampoo bottles.
Peter Hadfield, a journalist based for many years in Japan, examines the efforts of the organisers and asks how far their efforts can push the Japanese people toward a greener future.
Producer: Alasdair Cross
Photo courtesy of @nickluscombe
Eco Homes Now!
The demand for housing is pushing through developments of millions of new build homes. So why aren't these all being built to the best energy efficiency standards possible with the technology that's now available? Tom Heap reveals how the scrapping of zero carbon homes has meant years of construction has not had to meet the higher standards hoped for. The new Future Homes Standard has just been consulted on but Tom Heap hears it's not just missing the mark for some groups but is at risk of reducing some standards altogether.
Homes now come with an EPC - an Energy Performance Certificate - to test how reliable they are Tom trains thermal cameras onto a new build house to reveal any leaks or hidden short cuts that may be lurking behind the walls.
Tom also gets a vision of the future - where clever design on village scale and with artificial intelligence could see us living in a low carbon way without even having to think too hard about it.
Presented by Tom Heap
Producer: Anne-Marie Bullock.
Fate of the Falcons
The Naga people of north-east India and Myanmar have long been famed for their hunting prowess. In the days of traps and catapults a balance was maintained but the influx of high calibre guns and the arrival of the Chinese Medicine Trade have wiped out much of the jungle wildlife. Tigers and Asian Black Bear are now very rare sights and even deer are increasingly hard to find.
Travel writer, Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent visits Nagaland to meet the local tribal people who have decided that enough is enough. They've banned hunting around their villages and created their own wildlife refuges. Already the signs are positive, with the revival of the Amur Falcon which was once hunted by the thousand and now nests peacefully in enormous flocks in the forest canopy.
Producer: Alasdair Cross